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17 Top Toddler Beach Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for a toddler beach trip
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It can be a lot of fun taking little ones to the beach, whether it’s a lake or the ocean. That’s especially true if it’s their first time. Watching their wonder and excitement at the sand and the lapping waves helps us adults take a moment to slow down, too, and appreciate the little things in life again.

But it can feel like you’re packing everything under the sun when you’re getting ready for a beach trip with young kids, can’t it? That’s why we’ve created this list of essentials, what to wear, and what not to bring to make your life easier and ensure you don’t forget anything!

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What to Pack for a Toddler Beach Trip– 17 Essentials

  • 1. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    It’s important for people of all ages to protect their skin from the sun, especially little ones with sensitive skin. We’ve all had sunburns before and know how miserable they can be! Be sure to take an umbrella as one safeguard against the sun’s powerful rays. We especially like this one because it is windproof too, which is great for the beach since it can get pretty breezy.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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  • 2. Reef-friendly Sunscreen

    Speaking of sun protection, you’ll need a kid-friendly sunscreen that is also reef-friendly AND is water-proof/water-resistant. We love this one from Blue Lizard for those reasons. Plus, it’s fragrance-free so even those with sensitivities can use it. And, with the SPF 50 rating, your kids can spend more time playing between applications.

    Reef-friendly Sunscreen

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  • 3. Packing Cubes

    If you are going on a long trip to the beach, we can’t recommend these packing cubes enough. When every member of the family has a set, they make packing and getting ready in the mornings SO much easier and faster for everyone. Keeping your clothes separated from your swim gear, toiletries, and undergarments really streamlines things.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 4. Waterproof Beach Tote

    Naturally, you’ll need something to carry all of your beach toys, snacks, swim diapers, etc. We love this one because not only are there a bunch of fun designs to choose from, but the extra pockets for drinks, sunglasses, and more on the outside are super handy too. Bonus: It’s waterproof and has an extra compartment to store wet items in!

    Waterproof Beach Tote

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  • 5. Cooling Towel

    Even with the ocean or lake right at your feet, it’s still a good idea to bring a backup means to cool off. This is especially true with little ones that may be leery of getting in the water. That’s why we recommend stashing one of these little cooling towels in your tote. All you have to do is get it wet with some ice water from your cooler or whatever body of water you’re near and place it on your neck or forehead to cool down quickly.

    cooling towel

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  • 6. Compact Cooler

    It’s a good idea to bring at least a small cooler with you for extra drinks for the whole family and some snacks or sandwiches that might need to be refrigerated. It’s extra important to stay hydrated when you’re out in the sun! We like this one because it’s big enough for all your goods, a lot easier to port around than a full-sized cooler, and collapses when you need to store it.

    Compact Cooler

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  • 7. Travel Towel

    No beach trip packing list would be complete without some towels. We love these because they don’t take up as much room as traditional beach towels, and the microfiber works even better at drying you quickly. Plus, they dry out quickly after use, so you won’t have to worry about a bunch of damp towels hanging around your hotel room!

    travel towel

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  • 8. Wet-dry Bag

    A wet-dry bag is a must-have for beach trips with young kids. They are great for transporting wet bathing suits home or to your hotel room without having them leak through to other items in your bag. Plus, if you use reusable swim diapers, we recommend getting two, so you have an extra just for storing those.

    Wet-dry Bag

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  • 9. Hand sanitizer

    Any time you’re out and about with young, curious kids, it’s wise to bring along a small bottle of hand sanitizer. You never know what they might get into, and the last thing you want is for anyone to get sick on vacation! We like these cute little Minnie and Mickey Mouse bottles because they make hand sanitization fun for kids.

    Hand sanitizer

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  • 10. WaterWipes

    WaterWipes are another item that’s good to pack along wherever you go, whether it’s just an outing for the afternoon or a long trip. We like them because they don’t include extra ingredients, making us feel better about using them on our kids’ faces. They’re convenient for sticky hands and sandy bums too!


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  • 11. Travel Cup

    You’ll need an easy-to-use, leak-proof cup for your toddler. Tommee Tippee is a well-known brand among parents for its high-quality baby and toddler products. Not only is this cup spill-proof, but it’s also insulated so their drinks will stay nice and cool even on hot days. (Especially nice if your child still likes drinking milk!)

    Travel Cup

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  • 12. Sun Hat

    There is a lot of sun exposure on open beaches. Make sure to protect your little one’s head with a sun hat too. This one is great because you have a few color options and sizes to choose from, its mesh areas give your tike’s noggin some much-needed ventilation, and the adjustable chin strap keeps it from flying away on windy days.

    Sun Hat

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  • 13. Beach Toys

    A lot of times, little kids prefer playing in the surf to actually getting their whole body in the water. This means a lot of time spent playing in the sand, so be sure to bring some tools to keep them occupied! This variety pack includes an assortment of sand castle makers, a bucket, scoopers, shovels, and more that will keep your kid entertained for hours.

    Beach Toys

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  • 14. Floaties

    Good floaties are a must for any water activity with little kids. This one is perfect for toddlers who are too big for a baby float but aren’t able to swim on their own yet. We especially like these because of their double buckle and extra arm straps for added security. Speaking of which, this style is a lot safer than inflatable water wings.


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  • 15. Wagon

    Although your beach tote will still come in handy, sometimes it’s just easier to bring along a wagon. You’ll need one with special wheels that can handle the sandy terrain, like this one. Aside from hauling all of your gear, kids are usually pretty tired at the end of beach days, so you can save your back and arms and pull them to the car instead.


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  • 16. Sandals

    Many kids’ sandals come with heel straps now, which is a good thing because you’ll definitely want some for the beach! Kids are prone to kicking off their shoes wherever, so it’s a good idea to get some that aren’t as easy to lose. Plus, you don’t want them floating away in the water! These little Croc brand ones are comfortable and come in many colors and sizes.


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  • 17. Travel insurance

    Accidents happen, and plans change. That’s why we always recommend getting travel insurance no matter where you’re headed on vacation, whether domestic or foreign. Having a “safety net” can lift a huge burden off your shoulders so you can enjoy your trip more and worry less. We always use because their site makes it easy to compare and shop for plans from top companies.

    Travel insurance

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What Should Toddlers Wear at the Beach?

For adults and kids alike, it’s best to keep beach attire simple. Of course, you’ll want some well-fitting swimwear, whether that’s a swimsuit, swim trunks, or a rashguard suit. It’s also a good idea to bring a coverup or hooded towel for breaks from the water so your little one can warm up and dry off. Water shoes are also a good item to have. Besides keeping your little one’s feet protected in the water, they make the hot sand a lot more bearable.

For evening walks along the beach, and casual clothes are the way to go. Shorts and t-shirts are fine, or even a sundress for little girls. Depending on the weather, you might want to bring a jacket too. For footwear, sandals are a good choice, so you can easily get the sand out of them!

What Should Girls Wear at the Beach? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample girl’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

There are a lot of options for swimwear nowadays. Between one-piece, two-piece, and rashguard swimsuits, you can take a different one to wear for each day of the week! When they don’t have their water shoes on, sandals with a heel strap are a good idea for little kids so they aren’t accidentally (or purposefully) losing them. Don’t forget the sun hat and sunglasses for extra protection!

What Should Boys Wear at the Beach? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample boy’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Other than the bathing suits themselves, boys will need similar items as girls. A hooded towel with a fun animal or character will make breaks more fun. If your little one doesn’t like wearing traditional sun/bucket hats, they make awesome quick-drying, ventilated ball caps for kids now. And when the water’s too cold to get in or you’re just searching for shells, some comfy shorts and a t-shirt or tank top work well.

Dressing for the Seasons at the Beach

SPRING – March, April, May

If you’re heading on an ocean vacation, spring should be warm enough in most places to actually take your swimwear and enjoy the water some. Other than some pop-up storms, the weather tends to stay pretty calm this time of year and the air temperatures are warm enough to enjoy the water without feeling like you’re roasting alive. Even if the water is a little too chilly for your kiddo, it’s still fun to walk along the beach in search of shells and other interesting things that have washed ashore. You might bring a mix of pants and shorts, depending, and t-shirts. Don’t forget those light jackets too.

SUMMER – June, July, August

By this time of year, it’s warm enough to head to lakes too, even in more northern locations. You’ll definitely want all of your swim gear: suits, water shoes, sandals, sunscreen, sunhats, etc. Don’t forget your extra clothes to change into after your day of fun too.

FALL – September, October, November

You’ll need similar items to spring during these months. That said, you might find that it stays warmer for longer into this season, depending on the year. The water is still warm too in some places, like the East Coast of the U.S. It’s still wise to bring a jacket, and swimwear Fall is personally my favorite time of year to go to the beach and the kiddos love it too. It’s not so hot, and the sun isn’t as intense. The water is still warm enough for the kids to splash around in and have a great time!
Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Swimming: Since the main beach activity is playing in and near the water, you’ll want to make sure to take plenty of swim gear and accessories with you. Pack at least 2 swimsuits/trunks and plenty of swim diapers if you’re little one needs them. Although not exactly clothing, appropriate floaties are a must. Flip-flops or other sandals are good for walking along the beach or to and from the car. Water shoes will help protect your little one’s feet from sharp objects and hot sand.

Beach walks: Again, flip-flops or sandals (especially ones with a heel strap) are perfect for walks on the beach. Keep clothing casual with some play shorts, t-shirts/tank tops, and sundresses. You shouldn’t have to worry about it in the summer, but be sure to bring a jacket for evening or morning walks in the spring and fall.

What NOT to Bring to the Beach

  • 1.DON’T Bring Electronic Devices

    Electronics and water don’t mix. While we adults can be careful with them, it’s probably not a good idea to let your toddlers play on tablets and the like near water.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Books

    While it can be nice to relax with a good book at the beach by yourself, you’ll be too busy playing with and keeping an eye on your little one. Plus, like electronics, you don’t want your toddler ruining any books by getting them wet!

  • 3.DON’T Bring Too Many Clothes

    More than likely, you’ll be in your swimsuits for much of the day, so try not to overpack when it comes to regular clothes. It’s good to have a few options if the weather decides to change on you, but you don’t need to bring your toddler’s entire wardrobe.

  • 4.DON’T Bring Too Many Toys

    You’ll want some sand toys so your little one can build sand castles, moats, and the like, but too many toys can be overwhelming. Just bring what you think he/she will use.

  • 5.DON’T Bring Hot Clothes

    Avoid clothes made of heavy fabrics and dark colors. Little ones have a harder time regulating their body temperature than us adults and can overheat more easily.

  • 6.DON’T Bring Sticky/Melty Snacks

    You’ll need some snacks, of course. Not much is worse than a hangry toddler. Try to avoid ones that are sticky and or melty. Aside from your kid getting messy, they can make a huge mess in your bag sitting in the hot sun.

What NOT to Wear to the Beach – (Click to expand)
As we’ve already mentioned, you won’t want to take any hot and/or dark clothing, especially during the summer. And, unless you’re doing a family photo shoot, you probably should leave the nice clothes at home, so they don’t get sandy or wet. Finally, while not the end of the world, tennis shoes can be a real nuisance at the beach. They can make it hard to walk on the sand, especially for younger toddlers who are already prone to tripping. Plus, they’re a magnet for collecting sand!

FAQs about Toddler Beach Trips

  • 1. How often should I reapply sunscreen on my toddler?

    This will depend on a few things: how much your child sweats and/or plays in the water, what the SPF of your sunscreen is, and how prone to sunburn he/she is. As a general rule of thumb, though, re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours.

  • 2. Which floaties are the best for toddlers?

    Which floaties are the best for toddlers?

    Most parents prefer the Puddle Jumper brand because they are Coast Guard-approved. (Side note: At some pools and water parks, you are only allowed to use safety devices like these that have been approved by the Coast Guard.) Many other brands make similar products. If you have an older toddler who is closer to swimming on their own, you should also consider the Speedo swim vest.

  • 3. Can toddlers swim in the ocean?

    Yes. Just be sure that they have the appropriate flotation device on and are being supervised constantly. As far as whether it’s safe for them, the majority of pediatricians say it’s fine for babies as young as six months old to go in the ocean.

  • 4. How long should I spend at the beach with my toddler?

    How long should I spend at the beach with my toddler?

    Toddlers shouldn’t be expected to last at the beach for more than 1 ½ hours. That said, each kid is different. Some may have the time of their lives and not want to leave, even after being there for several hours. Others may be done after the first 15 minutes. You want them to have fun and enjoy the beach, so if they start getting grumpy and food and drinks aren’t helping, it’s probably time to pack up and go, regardless of how long you’ve been there.

  • 5. How do I keep my toddler safe at the beach?

    Keeping your toddler safe at any beach just requires some common sense. You or another adult will need to keep a close eye on them at all times. (The more sets of eyes, the better!) Making sure their flotation device, whether it’s a swim vest or the Puddle Jumper style, is the right one for their weight is important, too so your little one won’t accidentally slip out of it. While playing in the surf is fine, never let them go completely in the water by themselves, even if they have a floatie on.

  • 6. What happens if my toddler eats sand at the beach?

    What happens if my toddler eats sand at the beach?

    This question is a lot more common than you might think! Some kids just love putting anything and everything in their mouths. Luckily, if your child eats some beach sand, it’s pretty unlikely that they will get sick. Just keep an eye out for any tummy upsets or rashes, and call your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

  • 7. What safety tips should I know to keep my toddler safe at the beach

    Other than the ones listed above, here are some other things to keep in mind when you plan on heading to the beach. First, check the water quality before you go. Water can get murky and stirred up after storms. You should also heed any swim advisories. Young children are a lot more susceptible to pathogens than adults. Second, if there is a lot of algae or the water just doesn’t smell right to you, trust your nose. Third, scope the area out yourself first. Look for underwater pipes, large rocks, etc. Four, it’s not a bad idea for you to learn how to identify rip currents. Last, although they will probably try to push them, go over safety rules with your children and remind them when needed.